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I’ve had a lot of fun over the years modifying my Mazda 2, but sometimes I wish I had kept it as clean and OEM as possible.

  • Car(s): 2014 Mazda 2
  • Location: Galena, IL
  • Photog: Peter Nelson (IG + Twitter: @16vPete)
  • Camera: Canon 6D, EF 50mm 1.8 AF

I know, I know, it sounds crazy. The car that I’ve made into a fun, ultra-economical track car. Writing and blabbering (one in the same?) about this dumb little egg has done wonders for my writing career, but sometimes I wish I had a clean, well-preserved, pristine version that’s spent no time being modified.

Because mine is anything but. It’s actually very clean all things considered, especially the paint. I’m a mad man about keeping the paint in decent shape, and the interior very pleasant. But I’ve replaced the front bumper cover once (a gnarly off at Streets of Willow wrecked the lower portion two Summers ago), rear bumper twice (people don’t know how to parallel park in Chicago and Los Angeles), and have accumulated a number of wrenching boo-boos. These include lowering the car on a jack stand in the wrong spot, messing up the unibody around jack points, trimming away bits of plastic to make bolts more accessible, wrecking interior panels from loading/unloading cargo, and more. The more is random bits of wear accumulated from many, many track miles.

Though, it still runs incredibly well, doesn’t leak or burn any fluid, the clutch is in good condition, and most people who get to experience such 100-horsepower glory comment that it’s in really good condition for 110,000 miles. This reminds me; I’m only at 3,000 miles since my last oil change, but it’s been eight months, I should change it soon.

Still, I kind of wish I could go back in time and be a little more careful while wrenching. I’d invest more time in keeping it clean, not messing up bits of interior, and also keep it a tad more comfortable. I bet I’d be able to achieve similar laptimes to what I set now, except on softer cup kit suspension instead of coilovers.

I think a lot of enthusiasts agree. They’ve had fun modifying their cars, but also look back fondly on when their cars were so fresh and new. I don’t necessarily yearn for it, but it’s definitely a sort of wistful gaze. Though, perhaps the solution is to just buy another Mazda2 someday that hasn’t been modified or driven on track.

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